OZ Cabbie February 2014
Welcome to the first edition of OZ Cabbie for 2014. The holidays are over and we are back with a vengeance.
As last year it looks like the regulators in Victoria and NSW are going to dominate our headlines again this year. They are continuing on their crusade to strangle the taxi industry and turn it into a 21st century copy of the 19th century sugar cane plantations when indentured labour was in vogue. The cheaper the labour, the more competitive Australia gets. It was the ideology then and it’s become the ideology again today.
As you all know, if you are regular readers of this magazine, both Victoria and NSW are having fare reviews. Victoria is expected to get a fare increase. After six years without the government has finally realised it may have pushed the industry to the brink of collapse.
That hasn’t, however, stopped the NSW regulator from starting down the same path. There was no fare increase last year and the recommendation this year is to freeze them for another four years.
What is amazing my mate Tim Hoi, is that both drivers and operators have simply rolled over and accepted their fate. He is not quite calling for blood in the street and armed uprising, but he is suggesting serious industrial action (shut down the streets and the airport) is the only argument governments understand. Check out If you work for less than $20 an hour and no super, you are a mug!
In September we wrote about the importation of 98 of the famous black cabs of London, the TX4, to Perth. Well, the first lot of 30 are on the road and based on the feedback from a number of Perth drivers, I’m able to give you an insight into the reaction from inside the industry. Full story in $1 taxi licences have Perth drivers queueing for one of the 98 TX4 London cabs on offer.
When the Victorian Government enforced a 5% cap on the surcharge taxis can charge on non-cash transactions, e.g. EFTPOS and smartphone, on 1 February, it still took many people by surprise although the date had been announced months earlier. While nobody can argue that it is a bonus for the public and even more so governments and other large institutions which spend millions on Cabcharge, it will have a devastating impact on some of the companies competing in the field. A cut from 10% to 8% would have been reasonable some say, by 5% doesn’t even cover costs to provide the service. Read more on what impact this decision will have on the industry in Victoria. It could happen in your state before you know it.
What is Lyft, sidecar and UberX? They are private cars driven by members of the general public that pick up passengers for payment. They have become all the rage in the USA in states where regulation is rather slack. The impact on not only the taxi industry, but also the hire car industry, is dramatic. Whereas they have to comply with regulations and pay large fees for the right to do business, these share-ride cars have little more expense than the petrol they use.
As you would expect, the justification for this type of business comes from economists who argue that it is all about putting the public first by providing greater competition, choice and service.
Where have we heard that before?